Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Discovering Charlottesville

Sometimes, it's really good for the soul to get away from the hustle and bustle of the big city and enjoy the bliss and simplicity of life. My recent trip to Charlottesville was a discovery of a place less crowded, marveling at the wonders of nature, and yet at the same time experiencing casual elegance and sophistication. I have been anxious to see this town that I've read as surrounded by farms, rolling hills, rivers and valleys and one of the must-see towns in Virginia. We started our drive early in the morning just after sunrise. We took route 29 that took us all the way to Charlottesville. It was really a beautiful drive, and soon as we passed the traffic of Northern Virginia, the trip started to be comfortable and rejuvenating. Along the way, we took some roads that lead us to some vineyards, elegant country estates and horse farms. Cruising down the country roads and byways is one of the most beautiful drives you can experience in the historic state of Virginia. Here are some of the photos I took along the way...

I was more elated when we finally got to Charlottesville downtown not only because we were starving but also because of the feel of style and sophistication. High end boutiques, cafes' and fine restaurants clustered along Main Street. You can choose to eat inside or under those big oak trees. We were already so hungry that we decided to have lunch in an Italian restaurant in one of their tables outside.  The food was really good, and yet reasonably priced. There were lots of people, mostly families having lunch, drinking wine or champagne. I was really impressed. You can tell that most of the crowds are intellectuals owing to the fact that Charlottesville is home to University Of Virginia, currently rated by U.S. News & World Report as #2 best public university in the United States and the only university in the United States to be designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, an honor it shares with nearby Monticello. Founded by Thomas Jefferson, conceived by 1800 and established in 1819, The University of Virginia is one of the eight original Public Ivies. I was amazed thinking that maybe someday, one of those students we saw strolling down the street or sitting in those tables with their families will be the future president, or a future Nobel prize winner. It was divine just sitting there, sipping chardonnay and watched the world went by.

One day is not enough to see everything in this historic town. But I felt grateful that I got a glimpse of this place's storied past and experienced the culture and magic that made Charlottesville unforgettable to me.

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